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Smith Knob - Hettinger Ranch

From the Burgdorf, Idaho "Y" to Warren, Smith Knob, and then to the pictoglyphs on the South Fork of the Salmon River.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 89 miles
Duration: Multiple days
Family Friendly

Overview :  This Guide starts where the pavement ends on the Warren Wagon Road from McCall, Idaho. Here, at the "Y", the graveled Warren Wagon... more »

Tips:  Depending on the seasons' snowfall, the trails are usually clear by July and open through September, sometimes a little longer. It... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Burgdorf "Y"

There is parking space for several trailer rigs on the south side of the "Y".

You go east on the Warren Wagon Road (FR 21).

It is 16 miles to Warren from here. This trip can be cut to a full day if you start at Warren, Idaho. The road is good all the way to Warren with only a few blind switchback curves.

2. Secesh River Bridge

This is a great place to see Chinook Salmon. They have traveled 700 miles from the Pacific to reach this area and spawn.

The middle of August is usually the best time to spot them. Look under the bridge and in the shallows downstream.

3. Warren Creek Bridge

Sometimes there is a beaver dam upstream from the bridge.

4. Warren, Idaho

Warren is a "ghost" town even though 9 to 16 people winter here and the population swells to about 50 in the summer.

It is snowbound all the way from McCall, Idaho in the winter.

There are no services here. There is a restaurant, the Winter Inn, but it is only open on the weekends. There was a "Bed & Breakfast", but there is a "For Sale"... More

5. Warren Summit

Elevation: 7000'

FR 340, from Warren, intersects with FR 355 (Smith Knob) and FR 337 (Hettinger Ranch)here.

There is a 4000' drop in elevation before reaching the South Fork of the Salmon River. The video at POI #10 (Hays Station) shows scenic views of the Hettinger Road all the way to the South Fork of the Salmon River.

The Smith Knob Road (FR... More

6. Junction FR 355 Rd & FR 356

Elevation: 7794'

There is a great viewpoint at this junction. You can see all the way to Smith Knob and the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness.

Large trees have fallen across the road to Smith Knob and the road was only cleared wide enough for ATVs when we were here.

7. Smith Saddle & Trailhead

Elevation: 6048'

The Smith Creek Trail intersects here. It is non-motorized and may not be cleared until late in the season.

There is a lot of bear sign in this saddle. Hunters camp here in the fall.

8. Smith Knob Lookout

Elevation: 6990'

Great view! You can see the South Fork of the Salmon River as you approach the old lookout site.

The Forest Service removed the lookout structure several years ago.

9. Raines Creek Trailhead

Elevation: 7815

This is marked at the most recent reroute of the trail.

10. Hays Station

This is a historic landmark.

The video has views of the signboard and cabin here.

11. Trail to Pictoglyphs and South Fork of Salmon River

This trail is not marked very well, but there are several stock trails to follow down to the river and then to the pictoglyphs and beyond.

When we visited, we contacted the ranch caretaker, Tim Hull, and he allowed us to go on ranch property to the trail along the river.

The plaque is on a boulder next to the river and reads: "DUSTY AGE 13 DIED ... More

12. Pictoglyphs

Elevation: 2080'

There are only a few pictoglyphs, mostly of animals. They are all concentrated on a house sized boulder. The turquoise markings were new to us.

13. South Fork (Hettinger) Ranch

This is private property.

The ranch manager is Tim Hull and should be contacted for permission to enter the property.

The video at POI #10 (Hays Station) has views of the ranch and the South Fork of the Salmon River.

14. Smith Creek Trailhead

The trailhead is just before the South Fork (Hettinger) Ranch gate. The Smith Creek Trail branches and goes uphill to Smith Saddle. The river trail continues along the South Fork of the Salmon River.

These trails are open to foot/horse.